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If you’re planning a Forest of Dean or Wye Valley short break, Coleford is the perfect base. As a picturesque and charming market town with a long and rich history, Coleford is compact and walkable with all the amenities and family-friendly attractions to make the town worth a visit in its own right.
It is also home to the Tourist Information Centre, where you can find out more about Coleford and the wider area.
Browse the shops in the historic town centre
Start your Coleford visit in the market square, where the centre-piece is the historic clock tower, the remaining part of a church that was demolished in the 19th century.
When you are there, be sure to look at the memorial plaque commemorating the Battle of Coleford, which took place in 1643 during the English Civil War and is celebrated annually in February.
Then walk down the surrounding streets with their Georgian facades. These ancient routes house colourful independent retailers that range from a model train shop to a new age gift shop, a cinema and variety of food outlets for you to stock up. The town also boasts three butchers, two bakers and florists, a greengrocer, a cake shop and a traditional DIY store. There are a number of clothes shops including Pomegranate, Soul Magik, Celestial Adornment and Raymonds, gift shops such as Moonstones, Odds & Ends and Reckless Designs and a wellbeing centre at Spa Rituals.
Eat out in cosy cafes and pubs
Coleford is home to a quick bite or loungy lazy dining venues in the town centre and surrounding areas. The award-winning Forest Deli and Sixteen Community Cafe sit alongside Scoffs Coffee House, Amici Restaurant, Ritmo Tapas Bar, the Dog House micropub, Bolters Restaurant and the more traditional Angel Hotel and White Horse public houses.
A mecca for train enthusiasts
If you love trains, then the Great Western Railway Museum is for you. The Forest of Dean was an important iron ore and coal mining area, where the railways played an important role in its economic success.
One of the last remaining permanent railway buildings on the site of Coleford Station has been turned into a museum where among other things you can see a restored locomotive.
Once you’ve visited the museum, take a 30-minute trip on a steam locomotive courtesy of Perrygrove Railway. The railway has four stations, and with an all-day ticket most visitors hop on and off at one or more of the stations to explore the woods or have a picnic.
Golf in the Forest
Why not combine your Forest of Dean adventure with a day of golf and pay a visit to either Forest Hills Golf Club or the Bells Hotel and Country Club.
Visit “the most magical forest on the face of the earth”
Kathleen Kennedy, Star Wars producer and president of Lucasfilm described Puzzlewood as “the most magical forest on the face of the earth!”
This was after Puzzlewood served as the backdrop to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It’s also the set for dozens of TV and film productions including Merlin, Dr Who and The Huntsman: Winter’s War and the 2020 release of The Secret Garden.
Walk through Puzzlewood and experience twisted trees in an otherworldly woodland through a mile and a half of paths, bridges and lookout points. It’s a wood like no other, and its magic will cast a spell to entice you back time and time again.
Go underground in the footsteps of the Freeminers
For over a thousand years the Freeminers held an exclusive birth right to mine for iron ore, coal and stone in the caves beneath the Forest.
Follow in their footsteps by visiting one of the 10 caves open for you to explore at Clearwell Caves. If that’s whetted your appetite you can even take part in some deep level caving activities.
By the way, how do you feel about bats? You’re almost certain to encounter them as you venture underground.
A mile from Coleford is Hopewell Colliery offering the opportunity to be guided through a historic mine by a freeminer, and shown the tools and methods used to extract coal from deep underground.
Walkers are Welcome
Coleford is a designated Walkers are Welcome town. It's the perfect base for those looking to explore the Forest of Dean on foot. There are also a number of excellent walking routes which pass via or nearby the town, including the Coleford-Milkwall-Parkend track and the Burial Path to Newland. Coleford has two parks, the Angus Buchanan Park and the Bells Field Park with views over the town. There is also a Hidden Heritage app which brings history to life with a series of 'then and now' photos and can be downloaded free. You can find out more on the Coleford Welcomes Walkers website here.
Coleford, the festival capital of the Forest
There are always plenty of events on in Coleford, from regular markets to live music, carnivals, cinema and more. See all of the events taking place in Coleford here. Some of the highlights include:
- Carnival of Transport – Easter Monday
- The Faddle Fair – May, August and Christmas
- Morris Festival – held each June
- Coleford Music Festival – held every July
- Skate Jam at Bells Field – held in August
Coleford Town also has an events diary available here.
Accommodation to suit every taste and budget
From hotels to glamping, Coleford offers a range of places to stay to suit every taste and budget. For those who prefer to be self-sufficient, there are a number of self-catering options such as Puzzlewood Cottages, and campsites such as Greenacres.
- Places to stay in and near Coleford
- Things to do in and near Coleford
- Places to eat & drink in and near Coleford
- What's On in and near Coleford
- Regional and Miscellaneous Walkers are Welcome - Black Circle 2022